Remembering the Holocaust

AROUND this time every year, I go along to local schools in order to mark Holocaust Memorial Day and the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

This year is no different, as I will visit Newbridge Comprehensive School to speak to the students about the legacy of the Holocaust.

The events of the Holocaust are a chilling reminder of the capacity for man’s inhumanity toward fellow man.

Most of us can quote statistics about the number of people who lost their lives. But although six million Jews and ten million others were murdered by the Nazis, the scale of the suffering carried out during the Holocaust is difficult to comprehend.

Behind every single one of these statistics is an individual who is someone’s son, daughter, brother or sister. Like all of us, these individuals had hopes and aspirations.

But because of the hatred inflicted upon them, their hopes and aspirations were never fulfilled.

Holocaust Memorial Day provides us with a timely warning of the dangers of racism and fascism and the extreme consequences of what these two evils can do when they go unchallenged and unchecked.

It is also a reminder that each of us has a special responsibility, to speak up against hatred and discrimination whenever and wherever we find it.

If we needed evidence of this in the past 20 years, we watched with horror at the atrocities in Rwanda and Kosovo, to me this shows that there are still many lessons of the Holocaust that are yet to be learnt.

What must never be forgotten is that ultimately, the Nazi regime began when one man’s prejudice and hatred went unchecked and unchallenged.

In past years I have visited students in Pontllanfraith, Cwmcarn and Risca to talk about the stories of people who experienced the horrors of the Holocaust and I am always struck by the passion and interest the students show.

Ultimately, it is this younger generation who will have to pass on the lessons of the atrocity to their children and it is heart warming that the young people I meet in Islwyn are so interested in history and determined to keep the stories of the past alive.

Sadly, the generation who survived the Holocaust are dying out.

As every year passes, there are fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors to share their story.

But as the number of survivors dwindles each year, we can all ensure that their story lives on as we remind others of what they want through.

For all of us, it is important that theirs is a story we never forget.